Jun 11

Menu Changes at Many Disney World Locations

Walt Disney World – FOOD

Mobile Order – available at Satu’li Canteen, Pizzafari, Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Pinocchio Village Haus, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, and Columbia Harbour House.
One must have a My Disney Experience account, credit card attached to My Disney Experience, and notifications on. Expect many more locations to come. Most places will not offer special diets or customizing meals. It is for folks who order right off the menu.

HELLO, GOODBYE

Animal Kingdom

•Smiling Crocodile is offering open face sandwiches that start with a BLT and adds salmon, turkey, or pimento cheese.

Magic Kingdom

•The Cheshire Cafe sits across from the Tea Cups. The menu was stripped down to drinks and a Cheshire Tail which is a Danish twist (pastry) filled with chocolate and topped with blue and pink icing.
•Prince Eric’s Market went from turkey legs to a ham and cheese pretzel. Cookies were added and some items were removed. They have an Under the Sea treat (cupcake).
•Gaston’s Tavern also offers a ham and cheese pretzel as well as offering trios of macarons as a special. Choose from either Pistachio, Raspberry, and Lemon; or Chocolate, Vanilla, and Coffee.
•Tortuga Tavern has a special offering of chocolate almond cake topped a red dome on a blue whipped cream sea.
•Cool Ship has gone from chips and Mickey pretzels to pizza frusta. The proper term is “frusta” which is pizza dough with the sides fold up and around to make like a Hot Pocket. They offer sausage and pepperoni or cheese and tomato.
•Tomorrowland cart sells snow cones.
•The Plaza offers seasonal soup and a honey baked brisket macaroni and cheese entree.

Epcot

•With the Frozen lines calming down it is time to open up the margarita stand. Chosa Tequila will sponsor the stand and also offer tequila, emañadas, and guacamole.
•Taste Track has expanded their dessert menu. Apple pie sundae has caramel popcorn, ice cream, apple pie, and caramel sauce. Berry explosion is ice cream topped with berries, pound cake, cotton candy, and strawberry pearls (molecular science project). The chocolaty churro is a hot fudge sundae with chocolate curls and a churro. Adults can have adult orange soda and root beer soda and these are used in floats. They still have soft serve and ice cream sandwiches.
•Akershus has added a creamy 4 cheese and vegetables pasta called the Fylt Pasta.
•Coral Reef needs a major makeover. She now offers citrus bread pudding, an Asian style tuna bowl, pork chop with braised greens and potatoes, charbroiled octopus appetizer, and a lump crab and watercress salad.

Hollywood Studios

•Sci-Fi diner is tweaking it menu and adds the Drive-In burger and the falafel burger.
•Hollywood and Vine is going into a Summer theme for the Minnie’s Summertime Dine.

All Stars Resorts

The three food courts will now sell alcoholic beverages. Velvet Ropes and Strawberry Fields are two names for a strawberry shake with Frangelica. There is a chocolate shake with candied bacon and bourbon.

Caribbean Beach Resort

Martinique has a well stocked market in a converted hotel room. A buffet and food truck is in the pool area.

Contemporary

The Wave is offering unlimited mimosas for $16.

Grand Floridian

Narcoossee’s now offers lobster tail and steak as its surf and turf entree.

Yacht Club

Fittings & Fairings gift shop is closed until July. Half of the shop is now open as the Market at Ale & Compass. They offer egg white wrap, sticky bun, feta and egg pastry, and a turkey and egg sandwich for breakfast. The rest of the day they offer paninis, ham and cheese sandwich, veggie sandwich, and spinach feta pastry. They have a grab-and-go area with oatmeal, sandwiches, salads, and pastries. They have Larabars, cereal bowls, fresh fruit, ice cream and many items to make lunch with.

Disney Springs

•Wolfgang Puck will vacate his current location in the Westend. This will make room for Paleo. Closing date is August 1, 2017 and all employees have a job waiting for them in the Levy chain of restaurants.
•Splitsville has an enclosed second floor that just opened.
•The Daily Poutine has added a cheeseburger Poutine but continue to use frozen fries.

As we wait for Edison and Wine Bar George we now have more to watch forward to in 2018. Portobello will become Tony Mantuano’s restaurant. Wolfgang Puck bar and grill as well as Jaleo by José Andés add to the list of new chef owned restaurants.

Notes

Can gourmet cotton become a new trend? Disneyland California Adventure has a dole whip flavored cotton candy. Always check menus and the news for changes. We are going into Summer so expect some menu changes. Disney cruise line changed menus the end of last year. Sometimes a restaurant will get an item on stock and add it to the menu for a while. Some menu sites are very outdated so look for discontinued restaurants and obvious errors.

Jun 10

Downtown Disney History and Paddlefish

I always enjoy Laurie’s reviews on restaurants.  This one doesn’t disappoint!  Check out what she has to say about the newly opened Paddlefish.

On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World officially opened with just two hotels and the Magic Kingdom. The Palm and Magnolia golf courses had been open a few weeks. Fort Wilderness would open in a few months. There were plans for residences at WDW. That November saw the opening of the Electric Pageant on Bay Lake.

1972, around December, we saw the Disney Vacation Villas open their first phase. Hotel Plaza opened up as an off-site Disney partner area that included Dutch Inn, Hotel Royal Plaza, Howard Johnson’s, and Travelodge. In 1973, Hoop Dee Doo Revue was the only non-hotel entertainment. The Golf Resort opened at the end of that year. It is now known as Shades of Green.

In 1971, Walt Disney World WAS Disneyland’s big baby sister. Disney planned for on site permanent residence in the form of manufactured homes. At the end of 1974, Lake Buena Vista Golf Course opened with tennis courts, a pool, snack bar, and the Pompano Grill. This complex became part of the Disney Institute and now is part of Saratoga Springs. 1975, guests found the entertainment, dining, and shopping were limited to Fort Wilderness, three golf courses, the clubhouse, and the resorts. Finally, Disney realized they could make money by giving guests a place to shop and dine outside the resorts. Lake Buena Vista Village opened on March 22, 1975. In 1976, there were shops offering candles, souvenirs, pottery, toys, art, antiques, tobacco, sundries, and tobacco. There was a pet shop, post office, deli, market, and a quick service shop. The highlight there was Captain Jack’s restaurant which offered views of the untamed WDW lands

Off in the distance a paddle wheel steamship opened on May 1, 1977. Lillian Disney christened her the Empress Lilly. It was a three story building built on a submerged foundation. Her name was in a red sign above the red paddle wheel. She remained that way until she closed in 1995 and reopened as Fulton’s. A neon replaced the ornate red sign and gone were the paddle wheel and smokestacks. Recently the empress was stripped down to the bones and became a Florida Coastal Cruiser, Paddlefish is her name.

I walked the gangway into a lobby with a hostess desk decorated with metal fish scales. The walls have dark wood panels and the stairs also have dark wood. There are imitation black tufted leather benches that make the short more bearable. The aroma of a New England seafood boil hits you as you enter the lobby. Potatoes, corn, seafood, and old bay seasoning hits your nose and makes you so hungry. They led me through a narrow hallway, so it seemed as it fits a mobility scooter. The entire ship had large windows to let the sun shine in and guests look at the view. I used the elevator to the second floor. Again, beautiful views of Saratoga Springs and Disney Springs.

The place has a posh feeling with comfortable seating, bright lighting, tablecloths, and fishy art. The chef came out and walked me through the menu. My wallet and my stomach are to small for what I wanted. They have a huge menu for lunch and dinner plus a late night appetizer menu and a brunch dinner.

Among the appetizers are crab cakes, chorizo stuffed clams, charred octopus with cannellini beans, conch soup, crab meat topped French fries, calamari, salads, clam chowder, and ahi poke. I went for the shrimp cocktail with ketchup and horseradish sauce. The waiter brought a bucket for the shells. I stared in awe at a bed of seaweed held a pile of U8 or U12 shrimp. These were huge. Each shrimp was deveined, perfectly cooked and delicious. I could sit there all day eating 5 orders of their fresh shrimp. Who needs fried green tomatoes and lobster corn dogs when there is a bountiful plate of perfect shrimp.

The lunch menu features lunch items like crab cake BLT, burger, Floridian chicken salad, soup and salad entree, and fried clam roll. The dinner menu offers sides like Brussels sprouts, Maque Choux, green beans, sweet tater fries, crab mashed potatoes, and succotash. Guest may top their steak or seafood with uni butter, bearnaise sauce, blue cheese, Demi-glacé sauce, and Oscar sauce. Entrees include fish and chips, jambalaya, branzino, opah, lobster risotto, scallops, catfish, steaks, korobuta pork, chicken, lamb, hamburger, and a vegan dish.

I have heard of black cod en papillote so I had to try this French dish. The term means “in parchment” as one places meat, vegetables, herbs, spices, and/or liquids to a parchment paper pouch. The pouch is sealed shut which causes the contents to be steamed. Since the pouch is not opened until table side there is no guarantee that anything cooked properly. In a fish stew the chef can pick out bits that are done or add more herbs and salt. A server stood next to my table and with great flare opened the bag and set the plate in front of me. Steam filled the area with the smell of cod, butter, and vegetables. The flaky black cod was enhanced by uni (sea urchin) butter, squash, and mushrooms to the point that I wish I had some bread for sopping up the butter. Sadly, proper ladies don’t lick the parchment but I am not too proper, lol.

The one thing I wanted to try was the New England boil. Every entree has Jalepeño cornbread, boiled new potatoes, and boiled Plant City corn on the cob. The least expensive is the snow crab, boudin sausage, and gulf shrimp. One can make a custom boil by choosing (per item) from crawfish, shrimp, king crab, queen crab, blue crab, clams & mussels, and lobster. For $10, they have yummy sounding desserts like a brownie milkshake with caramel corn and chocolate ganache. They have southern favorite like key lime pie, carrot cake, and strawberry shortcake. The restaurant had a fully stocked bar with cordials, cognac, brandy, bourbon, scotch, wine, and draft beer. Cocktails include a Bloody Mary with crab, bacon, and shrimp; the Gold Rush with ginger beer, whiskey, and lime; and the Mad About Saffron Martini that has elderberry liqueur, vodka, and saffron.

ALLERGEN WARNING: The air is permeated with shellfish such as lobsters, clams, mussels, shrimp, and crawfish. Also in the air are sausages, corn and potatoes. Old Bay seasoning contains black and red pepper, spices, celery seed, and paprika. Anyone allergic to black pepper, spices, celery, potatoes, corn, or shellfish should not come near Paddlefish.

Paddlefish works well with allergies. I hate such a warning when a restaurant works so hard to feed guests on a limited diet. I enjoyed my meal and had no reactions. Very family friendly while having the bar for adults. The decor, theme, views, and staff are why I will be back. I highly recommend Paddlefish and feel they are my top three table service meals.

Jun 05

Pandora – Survival Guide for Ecotourists

Laurie was at Animal Kingdom for the opening of Pandora.  She has a lot of info to share with us.

HISTORY – Animal Kingdom

In 1998, Animal Kingdom opened with a river ride and a land called Camp Minnie and Mickey. The boat ride quickly closed and was left unused until the Rivers of Light theater and show was built. Camp Minnie and Mickey became a place to see a show and leave. The last show, Festival of the Lion King, was removed along with character greets, a few snack stands, and a small education spot.

We can now see what guests saw on the boat ride. The scary rocks that the boat navigated and the lush foliage. As the boat entered Africa there were no Lion King theater or bathrooms. The boat approached a service bridge that was disguised as a 15th century Portuguese fort with gun slots. The bridge is only 20 years old but retains that rustic look. In place of the boats is a wooden walkway over the water that connects Africa with what is now Pandora.

Pandora aka Avatarland, has a backstory that many guests do not have the time to find out or is hidden. RDA was a mining company that almost destroyed the planet to get what they wanted. RDA ran away and left their base behind. The locals, Na’vi, had no use for the base so they left it to nature to heal the land. A few RDA employees remained in their new home and were expatriates (expats). This story follows colonialism in India, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and even the USA almost verbatim. The story is based in a time like 19th London where there was nothing but drudgery and few jobs back home. Who would want to leave paradise to work in factories and other menial jobs when they can be healthy and happy.

A former RDA employee built Pongu Pongu for his expatriate coworkers. It was a healing place of beauty that ended up with the owner of Pongu Pongu helping ACE ecotourism to be developed on Pandora. Over the past 50 years people came and never left. The RDA Commissary was stripped of almost everything RDA and became a place to show off Na’vi artifacts as well as RDA artifacts. It was named Satu’li Canteen and features home cooking of Earth and Pandora. Next came Windtraders shop that displays Na’vi artwork. Windtraders is an old RDA building that was stripped and turned into a place for souvenirs as well as merchandise celebrating Pandora. The Na’vi have their wares for sell in the shop. The RDA base was recycled for parts for current buildings and the rest left to nature.

DISABLED TRAVELERS

The Na’vi oral tradition includes stories of a paralyzed veteran who became a Na’vi. Pandora has many paths that are disabled friendly. Sadly ACE did not listen to the Na’vi and made two rides that the disabled can’t ride. The calm river ride does not have a wheelchair boat like the Jungle Cruise. Many people want to see the labs and ride a banshee but are turned away. ACE forgot how a paraplegic soared on a banshee and fought for the Na’vi.  Hopefully this will be changed. The Canteen staff are very kind to the disabled travelers. They carry trays, pick up utensils and drinks, and help bus their table. Except for soy, the chefs have included special diets. Sadly there are no gluten free desserts. Breakfast is hearty hash of chorizo, pork, potatoes, and peppers. Hopefully there will be soy free dishes beyond the 2 dishes at lunch.

DAS can be used to get a return time. All persons must be linked to the DAS before a return time can be received for the group. This is a great benefit as it is hard to get a mobility device out of the standby line if a person needs to leave. Rider Switch Pass is also available for those with small kids.

WAR

On opening day I used a Pride Gogo mobility scooter. I came home with multiple dents and bruises besides severe reaction to the heat. I was backpacked repeatedly. People would kick and hit my scooter. Worst was people standing inches from my face as if I enjoyed looking at their shorts and backpacks. Cutting in line was too common. One had to protect their space while waiting in line because people would slither through crowds to be first into Pandora. Some parents were too busy and their kids ran amok, darted into crowds, hit and kicked people, or hit mobility devices. I watched people plow through crowds without yielding to disabled guests, strollers, and cast members.

NA’VI WAY – PEACE AND BROTHERHOOD

Now for what Pandora really is about. I shared my table twice at my meals and I saw others share tables. Cast Members carried my tray, brought me my drink and utensils, and took the tray away. Later they bussed my table while other staff were helping guests find seats. There were guests helping other guests on Pandora like when a man dropped a bag from his stroller and someone chased him down. The children danced with the drummers and the crowd was ecstatic over the drummers. There was the sound of music and nature as people relaxed in the shade. Amongst the war and chaos, was humanity, in a distant land. Most of the people were there to learn and be entertained while patiently waiting. Sometimes a person would invite others in line to join them in a shade spot. This humanity and serenity within a garden akin to paradise calls me back. Maybe I can be an expatriate on Pandora.

NAVIGATING PANDORA

The main entrance is on the left as you enter Discovery Island, just before Pizzafari. If you have a FP or DAS return time then you arrive 15-60 minutes before the return time. The Rider Switch Pass should be shown at the Fastpass line. The entrance to Pandora is down to an hour or two. The second entrance is from the area near the bathrooms near the Lion King theater along the river. Currently that path is only an exit. It is of utmost importance that one gets in the correct line. There is one for each of these: Extra Magic Hours, fastpasses, and all others.

The main landmarks are the river, the canteen, and the floating rocks. Facing the canteen one can find the exits and the river ride line. Straight ahead is the bathroom and behind you along the river is the main entrance, bathrooms, and face painting. To your left is Pongu Pongu and Windtraders. Continuing down the path on the left and behind you is the Flights ride. With your back to the canteen you will see the floating rocks with the far right one having Flights. In front of you are the drums and a body of water.
It is easy to get lost. Look for a large body of water that is between the river and the floating rocks. This will help you orient yourself. Rocks on the left and river on the right will align you with the map. The river on your right will also align you to the map. The river ride, face painters, and bathroom are at the bottom of the map. Practice at home so you understand how to use landmarks and how to turn your body so the map faces the right way. Hold the map and find a landmark. Turn in a circle until you are facing those things at the top of the map like the Canteen. Find your target and head for it. This is a lot easier than reading an upside down map.

PLANNING TIPS

Pandora is most beautiful at night. Get your fastpass then exit. Don’t waste time for anything but the drummers. Breakfast is great, but all other meals I recommend Tusker House and Flame Tree. During the heat of the day and get fastpass and important things done. Come back when your fastpass time is ready. Don’t waste time in Pandora as you will be in a lot of sun. There are so many things you can do.  There is free ice, cold water, and hot water available. Bring snacks like Lara bars, chips, and things to nibble on. Bring zipper bags for storing snacks and popcorn. SUNSCREEN!! Wear a hat, wicking cotton clothes, and short sleeves. Stay hydrated by getting cups of ice and adding your drinks or their tap water. Sharing is caring so share food with your family so everyone experiences the food. Teach kids to stay near you and have them labeled in some way such as clothing tags. Teach kids who to go to when lost like the restaurant and shops. Kids, as soon as possible, should know your name. MARK MONTGOMERY shouted in a crowd gets more attention because people respond to their name. Have pictures of your group and everything you bring into the park. It is easier for EMTs, police, security, and cast members to find the lost person or item. Marking items with a return address helps. My cell phone is locked but has an emergency number which could be used to contact a friend. Have a designated meeting place such as the Dawa Bar. Don’t be vague like “I am outside the Lion King” as that covers everything from the bathrooms to Tusker House. Better to say, “I am along the river directly across from the Lion King entrance”.  Some places have two entrance like World of Disney which leads to confusion. I have been part of a hunt for the correct entrance too many times. Buy a Mophie charger and keep it with cables in a bag so you can grab it and go. Study My Disney Experience and other apps as they can tell you where bathrooms, churros, and first aid. My Disney Experience allows users to get a map with step by step instructions.

Mom and I were evacuated from New Orleans Square in Disneyland because of an alarm. We were sent to the Haunted Mansion. Emergencies happen and you have to be prepared. Our evacuation was just an alarm going off. What if your bus breaks down? During mass movement, such as parade crossings, a group can split up. Always be over prepared. Bring to Pandora lots of batteries for cameras and electronic devices as the beauty should be shared. Zipper bags make good gloves as well as trash and leftovers. Bring your imagination and take time to study how succulent plants are turned into magnificent aliens plants. Imagine a living planet that glows with life at nighttime. Unlike the real Pandora, you can come and go as you please. Try a morning trip with breakfast at the canteen then head to Asia and Africa for the big ticket attractions. In the evening finish with one more ride and a nighttime show given by Pandora. Watch for other guests who are staring at the details of something as they may have found something interesting. I am in awe how imagineers made rusting bridges and equipment along side decaying buildings.